Dinah Washington part 2©2004JCMarion


In January of 1955 Dinah recorded another pop hit in her own style - "That's All I Want From You" (which had a hit version by Jaye P. Morgan) and "You Stay On My Mind" on Mercury # 70537 with a studio band that included Paul Quininchette. In a January report on the recording business, other than Columbia (with its Okeh and Epic labels) Mercury was the only major label that had top R & B sellers. All the others were by independents. The Mercury hits were both by Washington - "I Don't Hurt Anymore" and "Teach Me Tonight" showing her importance to the label. In March Dinah and The Honeytones (newly signed to Mercury) open at the Howard Theater in D.C. That month Washington does a marathon recording session for a new LP to be called "For Those In Love". The session is supervised by Mercury's head of A & R Bobby Shad. In April Dinah does a week at L.A.'s The Tiffany, and Mercury releases "If It's The Last Thing I Do" and "I Diddie" on # 70600. In May Dinah appears for the first time with Alan Freed at rock 'n roll shows for two days in Providence and a week in Boston. She will also appear with Freed at the Command Performance benefit show at the Detroit Olympia along with Ella Fitzgerald, the Count Basie and Lionel Hampton bands, The Charms and Penguins, and gospel greats Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward. In May Dinah appears with Oscar McLollie & His Honeyjumpers at the 5-4 Ballroom in L.A. In June Mercury gives Dinah a big "pop push" with the release of "I Hear Those Bells" and "The Cheat" recorded with Hal Mooney's band on # 70653. In October Washington appears in a motion picture called "Rock 'n Roll Revue" by Studio Films. In November Dinah plays L.A.'s Paramount Theater with The Penguins, Platters, and Big Jay McNeely and his combo. Dinah records "I Concentrate On You" and "Not Without You" with Hal Mooney's Orchestra and is issued on # 70694. Dinah also records some tracks for an upcoming LP album with Paul Quininchette and Wynton Kelly leading the studio group.

In the first few days of 1956 Mercury releases "The Show Must Go On" and "I Just Couldn't Stand It No More" on # 70776. Following that release "Let's Get Busy" and "Let's Go Around Together" is out on # 70833. In May "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" and "The First Time" are released by Mercury on # 70868. In July Dinah takes part in a benefit show at New York's Savoy Ballroom to help defray medical expenses for sax player Arnett Cobb and his family who were seriously injured in an automobile accident in Connecticut. In September Dinah headlines with Little Richard at Los Angeles 12th Annual Cavalcade of Jazz held at Wrigley Field. "Tears To Burn" and "Soft Winds" are paired on # 70906. Two tunes recorded with Quincy Jones are "The Kissing Way Home" and "Relax Max" on # 70968. In December, Washington returns for a week at New York's Basin Street night club. Dinah closes out the year with a week at Cleveland's Chatterbox along with The Ravens. It is apparent that Dinah has moved away from a blues and R & B style to one that is more adult oriented featuring jazz numbers and pop standards. This is a way that many former Rhythm & Blues performers coped with the move toward rock 'n roll and the emphasis on teenaged record buyers and now, teenaged performers at the forefront. Dinah records a number of tracks for her new album to be called "The Swinging Miss D". The tunes "To Love And Be Loved" and "All Because Of You" are released on # 71018.

In February of 1957, both Dinah Washington and Ruth Brown substituted for Ella Fitzgerald (suffering from illness) at the New York Paramount. That month Mercury releases "You Let My Love Run Cold" and "I Know" recorded with Quincy Jones on # 71043. In March Dinah marries for the fifth time, to Eddie Chamblee sax man formerly with Lionel Hampton. The wedding took place on the stage of Washington D.C.'s Casino Royale where Dinah is headlining. She invited every one of her four ex-husbands but they all sent their regrets ! In April "Ain't Nobody Home" and "I'm Gonna Keep My Eyes On You" are released on # 71087. In November "Blues Down Home" and the old jazz standard "Everybody Loves My Baby" are out on # 71220. Dinah works on LP tracks with the Ernie Wilkins Orchestra for "Dinah Sings Fats Waller". In the spring of the following year, Mercury releases two songs Dinah recorded with the big band of Maynard Ferguson - All Of Me" and "Make Me A Present To You" on # 71377. Two tunes with husband Eddie Chamblee are next - "Honky Tonk" and "Somewhere Along The Line" on # 71389. She also records tracks for another album to be called "Dinah Sings Bessie Smith". During the July Fourth weekend, Dinah appears at the Newport Jazz Festival with an all star band featuring Blue Mitchell, Melba Liston, Kenny Dorham, Sahib Shihab, Wynton Kelly, and Max Roach. Her performance is captured on film for the historic documentary "Jazz On A Summer's Day". "Ring-A My Phone" and Never Again" recorded with the Hal Mooney Orchestra are released on # 71317. The rest of the year was spent working on album projects and personal appearances.

By 1959, the entire scene of American pop music had changed, and Dinah Washington was one of the many performers that had to change with it. No longer was she the "Queen of the Juke Boxes" and a star of the R & B world. After thirteen years with Mercury Records she was seen as a fading performer limited to concept albums and mood music for adults. But - all of that would soon change. During January Dinah stars at Roberts Show Lounge in Chicago for a week. In April of 1959 Dinah records "What A Difference A Day Makes" and "Come On Home" with the orchestra of Belford Hendricks which includes jazz veterans Milt Hinton on bass and Panama Francis on drums and produced by Clyde Otis. Mercury issues the record on # 71435. In May Dinah plays the Village Vanguard for two weeks. In May and June, "What A Difference A Day Makes" takes off big around the country. It sells so well that Mercury Records issues the side in 45 rpm stereo sound. The song sells into the top ten national pop charts and becomes a million seller, the first in Dinah's career. Her great vocal on the ballad remains on the best seller list for close to four months. In August Washington teams up with fellow label mate Brook Benton and forms a production company that will produce a nation wide tour with both vocalists as headliners and also include The Falcons vocal group and James Moody's band featuring singer Eddie Jefferson. In August during a European tour of England and Scandanavia, Dinah married for the sixth time. "Unforgettable" and "Nothing In The World" are released on # 71508 in mid September. It becomes another solid seller for Dinah getting into the national top twenty and spending two months on the top seller charts. In November Dinah records the seasonal "Ol Santa" and "The Light" on # 71557. At year's end, Mercury rushes out an LP of current and recent hits including "What A Difference" and "Unforgettable" by Dinah Washington.

Early in 1960 Dinah records "It Could Happen To You" and "Age Of Miracles" with Belford Hendricks band on # 71560. The LP called "What A Difference A Day Makes" is a good seller on the album charts. A duet with Dinah and Brook Benton on the tunes "Baby You Got What It Takes" and I Do" released on # 71565 takes off in sales immediately.It turns out to be a monster hit going to number five nationally, remaining on the hit charts for more than three months and becoming a million seller. Beside being a tremendous performance by both vocalists, it contains one of the more delightful moments on any hit record in history. Coming off the bridge into the final chorus, Benton mistakenly jumps in, realizes his goof, and gives out with a "yeah, oh yeah" as Dinah does her line and then she says to Benton "Now it's you !" and he hits his notes. What a great decision to leave this flub in (Clyde Otis ?) because it makes the record an instant classic. So all of a sudden, in the midst of the rock 'n roll age, Dinah Washington is back surpassing anything she has accomplished in her previous twenty years in the business. While on tour supporting her hits, she finds time to work on tracks for the LP "What A Difference A Day Makes" with the Nat Goodman Orchestra featuring Joe Zawinul. In June Dinah and Brook follow up with another duet on "A Rockin Good Way (To Mess Around And Fall In Love)" and "I Believe" with Belford Hendricks band on # 71629. Again they hit paydirt with a million selling single that gets into the top ten and is a three month mainstay on the pop charts. In late summer "This Bitter Earth" released on # 71635 is a top twenty five seller nationally, and is followed by the pop standard "Love Walked In" and "I'm In Heaven Tonight" on # 71696. "Love Walked In" is a moderate seller getting to number thirty across the country.

Dinah moves into 1961 after the greatest two years of her career. "We Have Love" and a cover version of Nat Cole's "Looking Back" recorded with the orchestra of Fred Norman is released on # 71744. This was followed by "Early Every Morning" and "Do You Want It That Way" on # 71778. Her LP album called "Unforgettable" is a top ten seller in the country. Just as it seemed that Dinah was fading as a hitmaker, she recorded a killer version of the pop standard "September In The Rain" on # 71876 which is a good top twenty seller in late 1961. "Our Love Is Here To Stay" and "Congratulations To Someone" recorded with Belford Hendricks is released on # 71812. She also records tracks for a new LP called "Dinah Discovered", and later has sessions with Quincy Jones for another LP album called "Tears And Laughter". In 1962 Dinah made a decision to leave Mercury Records after more than fifteen years and move to New York based Roulette Records. She had one hit for them "Where Are You" which was released on Roulette # 4424. An album for Roulette called "Dinah '62" makes the best seller charts during the summer of 1962. From that time on she concentrated on LP albums and soon married again. Husband number seven was pro football star Dick "Night Train" Lane, a standout for the Detroit Lions. Dinah soon moved to Detroit to be near him and seemed ready to perform and record anew. Albums followed for Roulette - "In Love", "Back To The Blues", and "Dinah '63". But in December of 1963, Dinah Washington died in her sleep. The death was ruled an accident blamed on a combination of sleeping pills, diet pills, and alcohol. She was only thirty nine years old.

She had been a mighty force in the musical world for more than two decades from the earthy blues of the mid forties, to the jump tunes of the R & B style in the early fifties, and then the smooth jazz and pop singer of the late fifties and beyond. Fortunately there is a wealth of music by Washington that survives on CDs. As with any performer that had a prolific recording career, there are many Cds that have duplication of tracks so be aware of that fact. Following are just a few of the CDs of Dinah Washington's music that are available. The starting point is the collection of hits on the CD called "Milennium Collection" on the British Hip-O label. There are also CD versions of remastered original LPs - "What A Difference A Day Makes" on Polygram; "Back To The Blues" on Blue Note; "Dinah Jams" on Polygram; "Unforgettable" on Polygram; "Dinah '62" on Blue Note; and "Sings Bessie Smith" on Polygram. Two interesting CDs come from Baldwin Street Music - "Queen Of The Juke Boxes : Live" from Birdland with Symphony Sid in 1949, and "Live At Birdland" from 1962 that features six medleys out of eleven tracks. For the collector and completist there are these box sets : "The Queen Sings" from Proper Box (UK) that features 109 tracks; "Complete 1943 - 1951 Mercury Master Takes" from Jazz Factory; and the ultimate sets - "Complete On Mercury vols 1 - 7" for Polygram that lives up to its title, and "The Complete Roulette Dinah Washington Sessions" a five CD set from Mosaic.

Dinah Washington - a most unique performer that for more than twenty years was a top vocal stylist in many different types of music. She appealed to such a wide range of listeners that she remains one of our finest national treasures.

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